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Start-ups tackle Web services management

MetiLinx and Digital Evolution launch a combined application that's designed to improve the performance of Web services applications.

Software maker MetiLinx on Monday teamed up with Web services management company Digital Evolution to provide utility computing-like features for Web services applications.

With the MetiLinx/Digital Evolution software, companies can improve the performance of business applications by tracking their usage and balancing the computing load across different servers, the companies claim. The companies, which are both Hewlett-Packard partners, will demonstrate the combined application at HP World, a user conference being held this week in Atlanta.

The companies are seeking to tap into two trends among corporate information technology departments: increased use of standards-based Web services software and growing interest in tools to automate tasks in corporate data centers.

Web services--an umbrella term for a set of XML-based standards--is catching on as a cost-effective means of sharing data between disparate corporate applications. As companies deploy Web services applications on corporate networks, there is a growing need for tools to manage their operations and ensure they meet specified response times, or service-level agreements, said analysts.

Several start-up companies have entered the field for Web services management tools, which provide a range of features from security to performance monitoring. Heavyweights, including HP, IBM and Computer Associates International, are also preparing their own Web services-specific management products. Fledging standards for Web services management are beginning to take form.

HP and competitors IBM and Sun Microsystems are each developing management products designed to bring utility computing to businesses, where companies pay for computing resources based on consumption much as they purchase electricity or fuel. Features such as automated software provisioning and management tools that ensure higher utilization of data center resources are considered important aspects of the utility computing vision.

MetiLinx and Digital Evolution address Web services management by combining their respective tools. MetiLinx, which spun off from a managed service provider in 1999, has developed software that monitors the usage of hardware and software resources on a network.

The MetiLinx software takes application utilization data gathered from several network nodes and feeds it into Digital Evolution's Management Server, which aggregates the information to create a view of the performance of individual Web services. If performance dips below a specified level, the MetiLinx software can provision another instance of a Web service to handle the change in processing load.

For example, a company could be running a Web services application that provides quotes to insurance customers over the Web. The MetiLinx/Digital Evolution Adaptive Web Services Management product could track how quickly the overall application?which could be delivering data across several distinct systems?and automatically bring up another instance of a Web service in case the response time dropped below a certain threshold.

The MetiLinx/Digital Evolution product can generate billing information based on the use of particular applications for Web services that require a fee. The combined application can also feed performance information into HP's OpenView systems monitoring and management platform, which has a large base of existing customers.

The MetiLinx/Digital Evolution Adaptive Web services management product is available now from both companies, with pricing starting at $150,000.

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